Mt. SAC Cross Country Invite 2022 High School Preview
Top high school harriers make annual return to Mt. San Antonio College for the 74th edition
By Erik Boal, DyeStat Editor
The 74th Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational presented by NIKE is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21-22 at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif. More than 13,000 runners and 470 teams will be competing at one of the largest and most prestigious high school meets in the country.
Here are 10 storylines to follow:
1) San Clemente looks to stop an all-time great streak
One of the most impressive achievements in meet history belongs to the Great Oak boys program, which has won seven straight Division 1-2 team sweepstakes titles, the first six coming in 2014-19, before the Wolfpack resumed the streak last year after the event was canceled in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Great Oak, which prevailed by a 78-95 margin against Loyola last season, is the only team in either gender to win seven consecutive sweepstakes crowns, but that exceptional run will be challenged at 9:41am PT Saturday.
San Clemente is one of the most impressive teams this fall, not only in California but the entire country, and has continued to build momentum in recent weeks, including a second straight victory at the Orange County Championships on Oct. 15 at Oak Canyon Park in Silverado.
The Tritons were third in last year’s Division 1-2 boys team sweepstakes race with 139 points, but the trio of seniors Juan Chantaca and Rory Catsimanes, along with junior Brett Ephraim, makes San Clemente a formidable lineup against Great Oak and the rest of the field, supported by a runner-up finish Oct. 8 in the championship race at the 43rd ASICS Clovis Invitational at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Pierce Clark, Grant Sestak, Taj Clark and Dallin Harrington have provided significant support for San Clemente, which is also scheduled to compete against California programs Crescenta Valley, Trabuco Hills, Torrey Pines, Redondo Union, Mira Costa, Ayala, Tesoro and Royal, as well as Highland High from Arizona.
Mark Cortes, Ramses Cortes, Austin Elkins, Nick Gaffney, Jeffrey Keeney, Nathan Lennox and Gabriel Rodriguez are expected to race for Great Oak, which finished fourth in the championship race at the 43rd ASICS Clovis Invitational, 39 points behind second-place San Clemente.
Crescenta Valley was fifth overall, trailing Great Oak by a 15-point margin.
Chantaca, who captured the Orange County individual title with a 3-mile effort of 14 minutes, 26.4 seconds at Oak Canyon Park, will also square off against Parker Simmons from Crescenta Valley, Carsten Williams of Trabuco Hills, Griffin Kushen of Tesoro, Andrew Martin of Mira Costa, Jonah Bazerkanian of Royal, Ryan Thomas of Torrey Pines and Aaron Thomas of Redondo Union, along with Catsimanes and Ephraim.
Simmons is the top returnee from last year’s race, taking third in 15:14, with Bazerkanian, Chantaca and both Cortes brothers running sub-15:20.
2) Rancho Cucamonga ready for the spotlight
Although Great Oak took third in last year’s Division 1-2 girls team sweepstakes race, halting its run of six consecutive titles, the Wolfpack are looking to capture another championship at 9:57am PT Saturday.
But the team that poses the biggest threat to Great Oak and the rest of the field is the group that placed 13th in last season’s sweepstakes competition, Rancho Cucamonga.
Following an impressive 32-108 sweepstakes victory against Corona Santiago on Oct. 15 at the Inland Empire Championships at Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park, Rancho Cucamonga has established itself as one of the top teams in the state and is looking to gain valuable experience competing on the same course that will host the Southern Section prelims and finals in November.
Nicole Alfred, Braelyn Combe, Renee Du, Natalie Esquibel, Jaden Miura, Malia Reinhold and Madilyn Siana are scheduled to compete for Rancho Cucamonga, which gained valuable experience Sept. 24 with a runner-up finish in the NIKE Portland XC’s Jim Danner championship race at Blue Lake Regional Park in Oregon.
Mira Costa, the reigning Division 1-2 girls team sweepstakes champion, is scheduled to return, along with last year’s fourth-place finisher Torrey Pines, which finished runner-up in the girls elite race Oct. 8 at NIKE Hole in the Wall at Lakewood High in Washington.
Del Norte, which triumphed in the Division 1-2 girls individual sweepstakes race last season, is entered in the team sweepstakes competition Saturday.
Canyon Crest Academy, Long Beach Poly, Peninsula and Santa Monica are also part of the field, in addition to Arizona Division 1 powers Highland and Xavier College Prep.
Highland produced an impressive fourth-place performance in the sweepstakes race Sept. 30 at the Desert Twilight Festival at Coyote Run Golf Course at Leisure World in Mesa.
Kayla Case, Vanessa Finchum, Charlotte Greer, Kinley Jackson, Sophie Mann, Kathryn Sewell and Zoe Tizard will look to build momentum for Highland in preparation for the Arizona Division 1 state final Nov. 12 at Cave Creek Golf Course.
Aishling Callanan of Peninsula won the Division 1-2 individual sweepstakes last year in 17:15, with Kelli Gaffney of Great Oak placing second in the Division 1-2 team sweepstakes last season in 17:22.
Anna Chittenden of Mira Costa, Scarlett Taylor of Torrey Pines, Avery Peck of Long Beach Poly and Phoebe Benun of Santa Monica, Emily Schott of Ayala, along with Hannah Riggins and Emily Russo of Del Norte are also top contenders in the race.
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Find more Mt. SAC XC Invite HS meet info HERE, including maps, course video, confirmations and more!